Feeling the Itch

I think it was Eric Raymond said that “Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer’s personal itch.”  Last week, Dave Carpenter, our Silhouette Director asked me about using database software to keep track of our matches.  That’s where the itch started.  As if I don’t yet have too little time with all that I’m doing, I’m thinking of starting a new Open Source software project.

It wouldn’t really be all that hard to program all the scoring parameters into software for the various NRA, IPSC, IHMSA, IDPA, and whatever other governing bodies you can think of, into a LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) system that keeps track of people’s scores, averages, personal bests, and be able to track how shooters are moving in the rankings, and is able to generate match reports in either HTML, PDF, or whatever other format you can think up, and there is PHP code for.

I think this could be a great help to match directors, as compiling scores can be time consuming.  But is there anything else out there that does such a thing?  Dave currently uses spreadsheets to do it all, but it gets complicated in spreadsheet software.  Plus, I’m thinking of clubs could easily and quickly integrate match results into their web sites, that could be a fantastic way to keep people interested.

What do you all thing about such an idea?  Any match directors out there want to comment?

13 thoughts on “Feeling the Itch”

  1. This is the way I would do it: a light Windows client for in-match work that works disconnected, and a LAMP stack with webservices for the backend/website. Sell it as a hosted service with branding (yourclubname.kickassscoringsoftware.com), blogs, social networking… sorry, got carried away.

    Anyway, in my experience, matches are held in places with poor coverage. Most people have Windows laptops. Expecting people to have a LAMP stack on a laptop – not happening. Have a light client that records data (maybe even does the scoring so results are available right away) and publishes via webservices to the backend is the way to go.

  2. Yeah, I was thinking along those lines too Ry. Possibly a Python app that would work on multiple platforms, and just hold the results until they could be uploaded.

  3. Python for the client since it is cross-platform easily, XML for data (since the XML parser is built-in) and allows for easy import to a web-based system with a different back-end. ReportLab for Python solves the printout issue since it allows you to generate PDFs easily.

    That’s my 30 second take on it. Also speaking from experience since I’ve used all three to develop some game utility software in Python and it works very well.

  4. Why not use content management software? Speak to Rick Ellis at pMachine (he’s a shooter, too).

    I bet that pMachine could handle it easily — it’s like adding blog posts, i.e. it’s web-based and can be accessed using any machine, IBM or Mac.

  5. Pmachine would definately do it. Ive used it for all kinds of stuff

    Access would be a problem. Dunno if offline blog software would be usable for a custome pmachine db.

    I think an adobe air front end would be ideal. Use all the jscript goodness. looks like a windows app and has built in synching to a db/services host. it would be a fun excercise. Hell Id help, not big on the js stuff but Ive been an oracle/mysql dba forever and do alot of webwork

  6. Looking over pMachine (Now Expression Engine) I’m not sure I see how it would work. Do you mean write a module for it to do the score tracking and results?

  7. There is a custom fields capability where you define your own db stuff. Then you can display it how you wish. It’s pretty damn powerful. I’ve used it on a few big sites

  8. Actually, my club is looking for a solution like this right now. Shoot me an email, because you might be on to something.

  9. I may have a lincense sitting around I could set up for you guys to mess with.

    What you have to consider is are you going for a whole club cms or just a score tracker

    Send me and email if you want to chat. I’ve had craploads exp doing this crap

  10. I’m mostly looking for score tracking. It would need to be able to work offline too, since a lot of collection areas won’t have internet.

  11. Yea I’d go with a light win client that can upload to a site or export a “mini” site in html for upload to a host. Make an iPhone app too :)

  12. I have to second the Adobe Air for client environment… it whips the llama’s ass. But, in all seriousness, (and I don’t shoot competitively at the moment, so I wouldn’t know), does one find a lot of laptops at competitions? I would think there would still be a lot of pen and paper scoring, at least on site.

    Also, how many clubs have their own tech support? Heck, it’s hard to find any range (at least down here in the recalcitrant South) with a regularly updated website. I would think a hosted solution would prove attractive. Since the overhead would be fairly small, and the UI can be lean and mean from a bandwidth consumption standpoint, a cheap subscription setup may be plausible.

    I think some early access might be to setup some on-the-fly scoring, sort of like fantasy sports where a number of people can do an impromptu league (coworkers, etc). Get some grassroots love, larger and more formal groups would get interested.

    I second the iPhone interface.

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